Cheshire West and Chester Council has issued advice to walkers visiting the countryside following recent incidents on farmland near Chester.
This comes after Mickle Trafford farmer Huw Rowlands announced he was closing permissive footpaths crossing his land because of ongoing problems including irresponsible dog owners not clearing up their animals’ mess spreading a deadly disease to his cattle.
Public rights of way officer Richard Ankers wrote: “Following recent incidents surrounding the public’s use of farmland in the Mickle Trafford area, Cheshire West and Chester Council has been asked to provide impartial advice.
"The general public is permitted by law to access areas of the countryside along formal public rights of way, which are categorised as public footpaths, public bridleways, restricted byways and byways open to all traffic (BOATs).
“Other forms of access are provided for use by the public by landholders in the form of permissive paths. These routes are provided by the landholder’s permission and as such the public has no rights to use them, nor do they have any formal, legal protection. These permissive routes can be withdrawn/closed at any time.”
General advice on appropriate use of public rights of way (PROW) is as follows:
■ The public may pass through and stop only to enjoy a view but not for a picnic or other activities without the landowner’s consent
■ Dogs are permitted on PROW but have no legal right to do so and should be kept under control, especially near livestock.
■ Landholders are legally permitted to shoot a dog if worrying or attacking their livestock
■ Do not deviate or allow your dog to stray from the line of a PROW, as it is an act of trespass
■ You may only legally deviate from the line of a PROW to circumnavigate an obstruction that impedes your way, for example, a large puddle
Mr Ankers stressed: “Keep to the PROW and other designated access routes/areas. Farmland is private property and to access it not on a PROW or other designated route/area would be an act of trespass for which you could be prosecuted in the courts. The ‘right to roam’ does not cover general farmland. Using land exempt from the ‘right to roam’, could again result in prosecution for trespass.”
He urges everyone to follow the Countryside Code.
For further information click here.
If you need more advice or encounter issues on the PROW network within Cheshire West and Chester, call 0300 123 8 123, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or submit a report via the council website.